Nile Rodgers: ‘David Bowie was the Picasso of rock and roll’

The pair recorded 'Just Dance' together in 1983

Chic’s Nile Rodgers has discussed working with David Bowie in the aftermath of the singer’s death.

Bowie passed away at the age of 69 on Sunday (January 10) following an 18 month battle with cancer.

Rodgers co-produced Bowie’s 1983 album ‘Let’s Dance’, as well as 1993’s ‘Black Tie White Noise.’

“I remember the first time I ever heard David Bowie’s music because I was naked! Big time!” Rodgers writes in an article for The Guardian. “It was in the most romantic, amazing, hippy situation you can think of – I was playing in a club in Miami Beach and they used to have a nude beach there, so this girl who was the night club’s photographer said: ‘Let’s spend the night on the beach naked and listen to David Bowie!’ I had no idea who he was but we listened to ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and it was just incredible.”

Rodgers continued: “When I got to meet him that was incredible too, although we were fully clothed that time! I walked into a nightclub and he was sat there alone drinking orange juice. I walked up and said: ‘Hey, you live in the same building as Luther Vandross and all my buddies,’ and we started talking, firstly about ‘Young Americans’ and that soon segued into a chat about our mutual love for jazz. I knew this guy was not kidding around – not faking it at all.”


“Within a week of that conversation he called my house and we were off and running on ‘Let’s Dance’… Then one day David said: ‘Nile, this is what I want my album to sound like,’ and he showed me a picture of Little Richard in a red suit getting into a red Cadillac convertible. How do you translate that?! But in actual fact I knew exactly what he meant, and that was the point I realised that David Bowie was the Picasso of rock’n’roll. He got uncomfortable with me calling him that but I did it anyway. Because I realised he saw the world in an abstract way, as well as in the way we all see it.”

Reflecting on the talents of his frequent collaborator, Rodgers added: “He was just incredibly artistic, always inspiring the people around him to do something interesting. His mindset would be: Don’t do the logical thing, try the illogical thing and see if that works. And so we would do that. And you know what? Most of the time it worked.”

Just days before his passing, Bowie released his latest album ‘Blackstar’ on Friday (January 8), marking his 69th birthday.

An official statement confirming Bowie’s death, published on his Facebook page, read: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”